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Transparency, new Master Plan vital for Niger Delta Development — Wabote

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The enthronement of transparency, prudent management of financial resources, and deployment of a new master plan are some of the strategies that would attract the private sector to support the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and return the agency to the path of sustainable development of the Niger Delta region, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote has canvassed.

He made the submission in the keynote address he delivered at the NDDC Public-Private Partnership Summit 2023 held in Lagos on Tuesday, hinting that once the finances of the Commission are transparently and prudently managed, it will entice genuine local and international partnerships. He also recommended that the NDDC should project itself positively through its choice of signature projects and interventions and open its accounts and project sites for public scrutiny.

According to him, “Capital is very shy and avoids controversies like a plague. In a situation where there are real or perceived infractions, corruption, lack of accountability, and other vices, capital attraction becomes a big challenge.”

He pointed out that NDDC has diverse sources of funding, some of which include the Federation Account, Oil Producing Companies, State Governments, and local or international grants, thus the Commission would be expected to demonstrate financial ingenuity before it could leverage for more capital.

The Executive Secretary based his recommendations against the backdrop of experiences at the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which is currently rated as the best agency in the country by several independent arms of the Federal Government and the private sector.

While blaming the failure of the Niger Delta Regional Master Plan launched in 2007 on insufficient funding, frequent changes in leadership, delays in budget approvals, and other issues, he canvassed for a modified or an entirely new Niger Delta Master Plan, to be developed with the support of key stakeholders of the region.

He further advised the Commission to stick to its core mandate and avoid being pressured by interest groups to derail or dabble into projects outside its responsibility, emphasising that the assessment of proposals should be strictly based on their sustainability, “otherwise, it would be money down the drain.”

The NCDMB boss further suggested that development and infrastructure projects should no longer be considered as gifts but as commercial ventures that need to be managed for profitability.

Speaking further, he lauded the management of the NDDC for embarking on the Summit themed ‘Rewind to Rebirth,’ describing it as “the start of a new dawn in making the Commission to retrace its steps back to the original objectives of its formation as an intervention agency for the development of the Niger Delta.”

Wabote admitted that it was imperative for NDDC to explore innovative funding via PPPs as a credible option to meet the expanding developmental demands of the Niger Delta region, hinting that “PPP’s also bring with it corporate governance, technical expertise, and commercial acumen to enhance project delivery and successful operations.”

The high point of the summit was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth over $15 billion between the NDDC and Atlanta Global Resources Inc, an international infrastructure project financing firm, for the construction of a mega rail line that would connect the nine states that make up NDDC and ease the infrastructure deficit in the region. NDDC Managing Director, Dr. Samuel Ogbuku, described the deal as the first harvest of the PPP approach. He noted that NDDC could no longer shoulder the enormous responsibility of developing the Niger Delta region alone, hence the recourse to PPP model to provide alternative funding sources for critical developmental projects and programmes to effectively drive sustainable development in the region.

Other dignitaries who spoke at the event observed that most of the funds that had accrued to the NDDC in previous years had not been properly applied, thereby contributing to the continued underdevelopment of the region.

They charged the Ogbuku-led management of NDDC to chart a new course and partner with the various state government and other stakeholders to deliver impactful projects for the region.

Energy

Bonga is asset of the year in Shell group

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Nigeria’s premier deep-water development, Bonga, operated by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) has won the coveted Asset of the Year award in the Shell Group for 2023, the latest recognition of its best-in-class performance in Safety, Environment and Asset Management.

Bonga had clinched same award in 2016 and was first runner up in the same category in 2019 for improved production, maintenance, problem-resolving capability, operational excellence and cost ownership.

The asset won again this year beating targets in oil production, plant availability, and greenhouse gas emissions. The asset also recorded zero fatalities and spills. “This is a testament to a culture of excellence which has endured at Bonga since first oil in 2005,” SNEPCo Managing Director Elohor Aiboni said of the award. “We appreciate the hard work of staff and contractors as well as the support of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited and our co-venturers – TotalEnergiesNigeria Limited, Nigerian Agip Exploration and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited which has enabled Bonga to continue to safely and efficiently deliver value to stakeholders.”

Among other factors, SNEPCo has relied on a motivated workforce, cutting-edge technology and a relentless drive on safety to deliver oil and gas at record levels at Bonga. Last year, the Floating, Production, Storage, Offloading (FPSO) vessel, which is at the heart of the operations, achieved the one billionth barrel of crude oil export. Overall, Bonga produced 138,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2023 compared to around 101,000 in 2022.

The latest award for Bonga adds to a lengthy list of laurels won by Shell in Nigeria in the past few years. In 2022 alone, Shell Companies in Nigeria were recognised as Best International Company of the Year (Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria), Upstream Company of the Year (Nigeria International Energy Summit) and Leading Tax Compliant Firm in Nigeria (Federal Inland Revenue Service.)

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FG, UAE plan new oil exploration deal

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The Federal Government, on Monday, urged the United Arab Emirates to invest in the renewal and reconstruction of the more than 50-year-old oil pipelines in Nigeria, stressing that the facilities had outlived their lifespans.

It also stated that Nigeria and the UAE were on the same page concerning oil exploration as crude oil drilling would not be abandoned despite calls for its abandonment in some quarters.

The Minister of State for Petroleum (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, disclosed this in Abuja while playing host to a delegation from the UAE led by the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Nigeria, Salem Al Shamsi.

Lokpobiri said, “This country has enormous investment opportunities, our pipelines need renewal. They have been there for over 50 years since Nigeria found oil in commercial quantities in 1956/1958.

“And from then till now it is almost 70 years and most of those pipelines were built around that time and have already outlived their lifespans. And even if you can produce, you need to evacuate to the terminals where you would export.

“So it is an opportunity that we are looking up to potential investors from the UAE to come and invest here and recover their money through those investments.”

The minister told his guests that the investment models would be very attractive.

“Part of what we are proposing is that if you come and invest you will get your money, for as you transport the crude you’ll take it. Proportionately you’ll recover your investments, for any barrel of crude you transport through your pipes, you have to recover your investment by placing mutually agreeable charges,” he stated.

Lokpobiri further stated that Nigeria has over 208 trillion cubic feet of gas, adding that “we in Nigeria know that these records are over 20 years. We can double or triple our gas reserves in Nigeria. So Nigeria is more of a gas country than even crude.”

He said, “And even our crude reserves, I’m very confident that the 37 billion barrels we are talking about are also records of about 20 years. So even in terms of crude deposits in volumes, we believe that we should be doing much more than that.

“That is why when this government came on board, part of what was said was that we have to resume our drilling campaigns to ensure that we make more discoveries and sustain the momentum, and we are achieving that by liberalising the processes.”

He said the government was trying to eliminate the bureaucracy which had been one of the reasons why some of these investments were delayed.

“Of course, you know that following the introduction of the Petroleum Industry Act, the NNPC is now run as a national oil company that is to make profit for shareholders and Nigerians.

“So we want to assure the UAE that Nigeria is open for investments and we are committed to deepening our very strategic relationship with the UAE. I am happy that the visa issue has been addressed,” the Minister stated.

Lokpobiri told the ambassador that Nigeria and the UAE would continue to leverage their membership of OPEC to work as partners, adding that the Nigerian market is huge for investments, whether in LPG, CNG or the entire value chain in the oil and gas sector.

He said Nigeria lacks the amount of dollars required for suitable investments in the oil sector, but noted that the UAE has billions of dollars that could be invested in Nigeria and recovered by the investors.

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TCN: Electricity to be restored in North-East region by May 27

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has informed governors of North-East states that efforts are underway to restore electricity to the region by May 27, 2024, in line with previous commitments.

In a circular signed by the spokesperson of the commission, Ndidi Mbah, on Tuesday, TCN reported that its team is actively rebuilding the four towers that were destroyed by vandals in the region, and requested a bit of patience as the reconstruction progresses.

Mbah also mentioned that the commission has required contractors to install on-site machines to accelerate the fabrication processes of tower components, which is currently in progress.

“The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) wishes to assure the North East Governors Forum (NEGF) that we are doing everything possible in our power to ensure the restoration of power supply to the North Eastern axis of the country, as earlier indicated in our press release of 10th May 2024.

“Our team has been tirelessly working to rebuild the four towers destroyed by vandals, and we will not rest until power is restored to all the affected areas. We appeal for a little more patience, as work is truly advancing.

“To expedite the work, we have insisted that the contractor put in place on-site machines that will help increase the fabrication processes of tower members which is ongoing.

“We expect power supply to be restored by May 27, 2024, through the new 330kV transmission line, allowing Yola and Jos DisCos to offtake and distribute optimally from TCN substations,” the circular read in part.

Recall that in April, the TCN had reported that four of its towers on the Jos–Gombe 330kV transmission line were vandalized.

According to Mbah, the transmission line initially tripped and despite attempts by the company’s operators to restore it, it happened once more.

Mbah explained that this led to the deployment of TCN operators who were sent out to trace and rectify the fault along the line.

She added that while tracing the fault, TCN’s engineering crew discovered that towers 288, 289, 290, and 291 were vandalised and some parts carted away.

Many states in Nigeria continue to suffer from vandalism of electricity infrastructures, often leading to power outages that can last for weeks or even months.

Last month, TCN reported incidents of vandalism of its towers five times in February.

It noted that the destruction of its facilities counts as sabotage and urged security operatives and host communities to work towards bringing the culprits to book.

Meanwhile, following the report, Mbah noted that efforts by TCN are currently mobilising for repair works on the affected facility.

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